An existential masterpiece
Re: “Unmeaningful pretension,” Letters, June 30-July 6
I’ve had my disagreements with Robert Moyes over the years, but regarding Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” the Monday film critic nails it, whereas Monday reader Stephen Potter doesn’t even see the nail, much less hit it. I doubt Potter is even equipped with a hammer could he locate the nail.
Put aside the fact “Tree of Life,” winner of the prestigious Palme D’Or at Cannes, has received praise from just about every film critic who matters. The fact is, Malick, who puts about 10 years worth of thought and consideration into a single film, is about as far from the “flatland of star-addled Hollywood” as a director could get, and “Tree of Life” is refreshingly indicative of this fact. This film, in my humble view, is an existential masterpiece of subtle, yet profound proportions, which may be a bit too weighty for Potter, who sees only “shallow pretension.”
As for the claim of “meaningless art,” what did he hope for in a Malick film? More superheroes, car explosions, indiscriminate violence, Jackass stunts in 3D, comic books on the big screen and saccharine plot formula? “Tree of Life” requires one to actually think for a change at the cinema. Malick’s filmmaking style is unique, akin to visual poetry, which I concede may numb today’s attention-deficit, blockbuster movie-goers.
Great works of art have always effectively divided an audience, creating the conditions for debate and dialectical ferment. The dividing lines are often many, but one of those lines is between those who get it and those who do not.